San Francisco

Robert Kabak and John Axton

Both of these artists are looking at nature through their similar but different kaleidoscopes. Robert Kabak’s paintings are composed of a mosaic of triangles; John Axton’s a myriad of rectangles. The edges of Kabak’s triangles are married tight together and Axton’s rectangles are separate but overlap. Both artists paint very large canvases of panoramic landscapes, often autumnal in color, and since the museum’s chamber is good sized, one can look at these pictures from sufficient distance to overcome the geometric method and view them as realistic pictures of distant views without any sharp focus on detail. Kabak’s painting is more energetic and unstill, but probably just because the dynamics of the diagonality implicit in the triangle are faster and more slashing, whereas the horizontal-vertical variation is less restive, more peaceful. The geometric technique is more usually used to obliterate space and bring the painting to the two-dimensional surface, and has thus been the special province of abstractionists; these painters have appropriated the sharp edge and demonstrated its effectiveness as another method to achieve the impressionist vision of nature.

––Knute Stiles